A burst of static. Silence. A sound like an engine sputtering to life. Paul Gunsberg, seated at a table full of sound gear, made some adjustments. Another sound rose through the rumble and the white noise like a foghorn. It escalated to a roar like a motorcycle. Then Gunsberg picked up a trumpet.

Gunsberg was one of four acts performing Sunday evening in the latest round of Multiplex, an ongoing series of experimental music at the State House put together by musicians Bob Gorry and Joe Morris. This fourth installment at the State Street club, featuring four acts, offered a snapshot of where New Haven’s experimental music scene is these days, and how vital it remains decades into its creation.



Having created his hissing soundscape, Gunsberg added trumpet, saxophone, and harmonica to the mix. Sometimes the instruments were a counterpoint to the cacophony; other times, they fed directly into it. Taking a quick sip from a bottle of Red Stripe beer, Gunsberg brought that up to the microphone and blew a pitch out of it that amplified the music further. The background noise developed into a lurching pulse like a dinosaur pounding on a door during a rainstorm. Gunsberg’s sax wailed in response.

Following Gunsberg was a trio of Bob Gorry on guitar, Jeff Cedrone on guitar, and Michael Kiefer on drums. Gorry opened the musical proceedings with a scrambling figure on his guitar that was both quiet and frenetic. Cedrone answered with long, atmospheric drones that Kiefer fleshed out on cymbals. It was nearly cinematic.

Then, with a nod from Cedrone, things got heavy. Together the trio made a textured, almost danceable groove. Cedrone took Gorry’s scrambling idea and made it his own, while Gorry escalated to striking his strings with a drumstick. For a minute, a weighty chaos reigned. Then it all vanished, as cinematically as it began.

The duo of Adam Matlock on accordion, voice, and melodica, and Michael Paolucci on drums. They began with cascades of frenzied notes that Matlock soon complemented with guttural vocals, syllables that conveyed strong emotions without needing meaning. Matlock switched to drones that Paolucci rode. As Matlock morphed back into chittering accordion lines, Paolucci responded with clattering cymbals, one of which was resting upside-down on his knee. They settled again into an ominous peace, then built it back up again as both climbed into the upper registers of their instruments.

The music, in short, began to seem like an extrapolation of an accordion itself — breathing in and out, pulsing loud and soft, as if some great set of bellows was at work. Moments of controlled sloppiness were countered with austerity, moments of tranquility with blasts of screams. In the end, they both settled into an ascending line that they took up and out of the music.

Yet there was ebb and flow to it as well. Sometimes the three locked in with their phrasing. Other times they diverged, taking turns moving slowly and quickly to give the music breathing room. At one point Morris worked up the fretboard with agonizing slowness and vanished up there, as if into the sky. Parmalee slowly faded out. That left Cretella to crunch out a gnarled solo on bass. Parmalee rejoined, but now Cretella left. Parmalee had his time. He made the drums roll, the cymbals hiss. Then, with one definitive drop from the kick drum, all three crashed in together, more ferocious than before.

It was a fittingly explosive end to this installment of Multiplex. “Is the fourth one?” Matlock had said at the end of his set. “Great! Hopefully there will be four more.”

I do too - and I hope to actually start attending these shows, since the last time I was doing that was when Popeye’s was still in existence.

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